By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. investment firm Grayscale Investments plans to launch the first-ever private fund focused on ethereum classic, a blockchain platform, according to Barry Silbert, founder of the company's parent Digital Currency Group.
Ethereum classic's token is the seventh largest digital currency in terms of market capitalization, totaling $126.6 million. The coin powers a decentralized blockchain hub in which developers can create different applications that can dramatically enhance the transfer and sharing of information and value.
Ethereum classic was built on the same fundamental principles as bitcoin: decentralization and immutability.
On Monday, ethereum classic traded at $1.42 on digital asset exchanges.
"As investors have grown more interested in digital currency as an asset class, we've also seen growing frustration with the difficulty in purchasing non-bitcoin digital currencies," Silbert told Reuters.
"We're excited to launch a fund for ethereum classic to satisfy the growing interest we are seeing in ETC from more mainstream investors."
The ethereum classic fund will be an open-ended trust that can raise an unlimited amount of capital, Silbert said. Digital Currency Group will be seeding it with its own capital and it will be offered initially to accredited investors, he added.
This will be the second digital currency fund for Grayscale, which launched the Bitcoin Investment Trust in 2013, the only publicly-traded U.S. security in the over-the-counter market invested in bitcoin.
Ethereum classic has had a rocky history. It came out of a split from the original ethereum blockchain platform created by Russian programmer Vitalik Buterin and launched in 2015.
In April 2016, a blockchain solutions company called Slock.it announced the launch of The DAO on Ethereum. The DAO was designed as a decentralized crowdfunding model, in which anyone could contribute ethereum tokens to become a voting member and equity stakeholder in the organization.
The DAO eventually raised $150 million as of late May last year. But on June 17,2016, an anonymous hacker funneled approximately $60 million in tokens into a separate account.
The ethereum network decided to undertake a "hard fork", in which the community would create an entirely new version of the ethereum blockchain, erasing any record of the theft, and restoring the stolen funds to their owners.
A new blockhain platform was then formed, keeping its ethereum name, and the original version was branded as ethereum classic. Both ethereum and ethereum classic trade on digital asset exchanges.
The new ethereum has a larger market cap of $1.8 billion, with the token trading at $19.97 on Monday
(This version of the story corrects the headline and first paragraph to show Grayscale plans to launch ethereum classic private fund, not that it has already launched the fund)
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Andrew Hay)